Restarting the public service engine

By June 26, 2022Punchline

By Ermin Garcia Jr. 


NEXT week, Mayor Belen Fernandez (and many others like her) will restart her public service engine.

And fairly or unfairly for her, the expectations are very high given the unprecedented mandate she got from the city, and after the disappointing and dismal performance of the Lim administration.

In her case, the shoe is still sturdy… and  fits.  She is no stranger to the rigors of a routine of public service that works for the city. The only thing that can disappoint her supporters is to make the mistake of tolerating the anomalies and irregularities that fed on greed and avarice of Mr. Brian Lim’s barkada and political allies.

It’d even help her govern more effectively if she lays down the boundaries of incompetence, dereliction of duties and accountability – all of which were blurred by the management of the city by the Quadro de Jack under the baton of their mayor, a former Jaycee World president.

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Anomalies and irregularities. Judging from the anomalies and irregularities that surfaced during the first three-year term of Mayor Lim, three-years  was certainly much too long. God knows how fast the Dagupan City can sink in its man-made quagmire if it had been extended.  Equate his three years with this list.

We can start with the creation of the market marshals unit only directly accountable to the city mayor and their collection of unauthorized fees from market vendors.

The refusal of department heads to attend committee hearings of the Sangguanian Panlungsod.

The entry of alien bangus in Dagupan market that downgraded the brand of Dagupan bangus.

The proliferation of illegal fish pens and illegal-sized fish cages owned by affluent businessmen who are not Daguapeños and never paid the city government its due.

The selective distribution of ayuda to Mr. Lim’s political supporters.

The illegal occupation of streets and sidewalks for baratilyo with minimal revenues paid to the city government.

The takeover of Dagupan Water by Pamana Water that is threatening to raise charges for poor quality of service.

The non-operation of the Dagupan City Diagnostic Center.

The overpriced deal for the collection and delivery of garbage from dumpsite to sanitary landfill sites.

The hiring of inexperienced, unqualified Jaycees as consultants. 

I’m sure the dedicated and professionals from among the city hall ranks can add more!

I sure wished things were different for Mayor Brian but when he shared his authority that was abused, he should have known that responsibility and accountability was his alone. The buck stopped on his desk. It’s never shared.

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LESSON ON ACCOUNTABILITY.  I do believe that Mayor Belen’s reputation as a no-nonsense executive will be boosted further if she makes the city officials and employees who abused their authority and blindly followed illegal orders of the Lim administration, accountable. After all they were given illegal orders expense of the welfare of city residents.

If she does this, it will set a precedent in local governance that accountability and responsibility are to be taken seriously by those privileged to have the authority and opportunity to serve.

I’m certain she already learned from her mistake when she retained Aguedo Sta. Maria in her first term despite negative reports about his performance. By retaining him, it emboldened him to believe that his performance will always be judged by his loyalty to the appointing power, not by what his duties require from him. He proved to be loyal to her  but that no longer mattered when Mr. Lim took over. He shifted his full loyalty to him, doing his worst to please him.

Then there are the members of the finance committee who should be made to account for their conduct and almost criminal performance by refusing to be transparent in their work. They, and others inclined to be like them, ought to be taught their lesson that no appointing power will defend them for obeying illegal orders, that they alone, individually, are accountable to the people of Dagupan City.

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DEMONSTRATION OF POLITICAL WILL. The decision of President-elect BBM to take on the Department of Agriculture once he assumes the presidency took many by surprise but not totally unusual.

Recall that PRRD took on the hat of a drug war general. He knew of the impending consequences if he closed his eyes to the growing drug menace in the country. It paid off for millions of families whose bonds and ties were already threatened by drug addicts in their households.

In BBM’s case as DA top honcho, is it possible he knows something about the industry that ails it, and he realizes that only his political will as president can make the difference, like PRRD did in his drug war.  

Is it possible that he knows who were behind the importation and smuggling of rice and vegetables the past decades, and will expose them for what they are?  That should make him the new hero of the neglected and abused farmers. 

His father, President FEM had made this political will known by having some of his own political allies arrested and a Chinese drug lord shot by a firing squad.

I hope he will do a PRRD and FEM to show us the kind of leader he claims to be.

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TRANSITION. I’m certain the transition from Guv Pogi to Guv Monmon will not be problematic for either one and for Pangasineses.

Both are gentlemen and professional public servants. I can only pray that their respective supporters will not fail their bosses’ expectations.

Everyone moves on. Tapos na ang politics, trabaho na!

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